The Washington Nationals, via Twitter, officially announced a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in which they acquired catcher Jose Lobaton, "power" left-hander Felipe Rivero and outfielder Drew Vettleson in return for 2009 12th Round pick RHP Nathan Karns:
The Nationals' press release on the deal says Lobaton, 29, "...is regarded as a strong defensive catcher that is especially adept at the art of receiving the baseball." In his fourth major league season in 2013, Lobaton put up .249/.320/.394 line with 15 doubles, two triples and seven home runs in 100 games and 311 plate appearances over which he was worth +1.4 fWAR. The switch-hitting backstop gives the Nationals a viable backup option behind the plate in case no.1 catcher Wilson Ramos misses any time this season following two years in which he spent significant time on the DL.
Left-hander Felipe Rivero, 22, signed with the Rays as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2008. In his fourth season in the Rays' system, the 6'0'' southpaw was (9-7) with a 3.40 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 52 walks (3.69 BB/9) and 91 Ks (6.45 K/9) in 25 games, 23 starts and 127 IP. The Nationals' press release on the trade notes that Rivero, who has a fastball that "regularly sits at 96 m.p.h.," represented Tampa Bay in 2012, "....at the XM All-Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium and earned All-Star status from the Single-A Midwest League."
Drew Vettleson, also 22, was a supplemental 1st Round pick by the Rays taken 42nd overall out of Central Kitsap High School in Silverdale, Washington. In three seasons in Tampa Bay's organization, the left-handed hitting outfielder put up a combined .276/.340/.420 line. In 2013, at High-A Charlotte, Vettleson posted a .274/.331/.388 line with 29 doubles, six triples and four home runs in 121 games and 516 plate appearances.
Here's what the Nationals' press release on the deal had to say about the outfield prospect:
"Vettleson, who was recently rated by ESPN’s Keith Law as Tampa Bay’s No. 8 prospect, owns a strong outfield arm and has 39 outfield assists in three seasons as a pro. He was a Midwest League All-Star and team MVP after posting a .772 OPS and 20 stolen bases for Bowling Green in 2012."
Law had Vettleson ranked as the top outfield prospect in the Rays' system.
The Nationals parted ways with 2009 12th Round pick Nathan Karns in order to get the backup catcher they were after all winter. Karns, 26, made three starts for the Nationals in 2013, making his MLB debut and going (0-1) with a 7.50 ERA, an 8.38 FIP, six walks (4.50 BB/9) and 11 Ks (8.25 K/9) in 12 major league innings. Karns then returned to Double-A Harrisburg and finished the season with a (10-6) record, a 3.26 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 48 walks (3.26 BB/9) and 155 Ks (10.52 K/9) in 132 1/3 IP.
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters in Viera, FL about the deal this afternoon at the Nats' Spring Training facilities:
Rizzo on Lobaton: "He fit the criteria we were looking for." Likes that he's a switch-hitter, rates well framing pitches.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) February 13, 2014
Rizzo very high on LHP Felipe Rivero, feels like he replaces Robbie Ray (dealt to DET in Doug Fister trade).— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) February 13, 2014
Mike Rizzo said that Lobaton's "pitch framing was key" to making the trade. He also said LHP Felipe Rivero has "huge upside."— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) February 13, 2014
Rizzo raved about LHP Felipe Rivero, saying he has "huge upside". 22-year-old spent last year at high-A.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) February 13, 2014
The Nationals announced another roster move this morning:
As Rizzo told reporters this morning, Davis, 27, suffered an elbow sprain and will be shut down for 2-4 weeks, but will not have surgery.
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